Hospital will not close, says NHS chief

Hawick Community Hospital
Hawick Community Hospital

The chairman of NHS Borders told the Hawick News this week that his organisation has no plans to close the community hospital.

This will be welcomed by the 50 townsfolk and officials who crammed into the Lesser Town Hall on Tuesday night after a fortnight of speculation on the future of the hospital.

Many of those attending the meeting expressed anger over the closure threat and the town’s councillors were united in any forthcoming attempt to close the facility.

NHS Borders medical director Sheena MacDonald was quoted in a recent BBC interview saying: “At the moment, health has three big areas of spending: staff, buildings and drugs . . . If we can reduce our spending on buildings and less overheads for heating and lighting . . . we know that if we take our resource away from our buildings we are able to put more into our staff and able to have more people out in the community looking after more patients.”

But in a letter to this paper’s editor, NHS Chairman John Raine said: “At no time, have we said that we are closing Hawick, or any other community hospital as part of a cost-cutting exercise.”

And despite failing to respond to Tory councillor George Turnbull’s letter within the stipulated 48-hour deadline, NHS chairman John Raine refuted claims this week that an invitation to a meeting with Hawick councillors was snubbed.

Following a presentation at SBC’s full council meeting, yesterday (Thursday), Councillor Turnbull, confirmed that he’d had no response by the deadline of 5pm set for Wednesday, December 10, before adding: “I feel a bit more reassured today. But I would once again make the point about Crumhaugh House in as much as any consultation must be open and transparent. We have had reassurances today that the public will be consulted about any changes brought about by the review at the area forums.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Watson McAteer was also at yesterday’s full council meeting meeting and he added: “‘We received reassurance from NHS Borders chairman John Raine and Dr Sheena McDonald that the review of health care including the viability and future of community hospitals will be subject to extensive local consultation.

“And as far as Hawick is concerned, this will take place via the area forum. Mr Raine stated that Borders people had a ‘passionate belief in their community cospital’ – a sentiment we all agreed with and one that we hope will be a key factor in any future decisions.”